Governmental Affairs News
Friday, May 10, 2013
Both the House and Senate transportation committees met this week to discuss how to come up with the $1.2 billion in funding needed to repair and sustain Michigan’s crumbling roads and infrastructure. The latest debate has been going on for several months (see previous coverage), after years of inaction.
The House committee voted out legislation that revises taxes on aviation fuel. HBs 4571 & 4572 would change the existing tax on aviation fuel from three cents per gallon to 4 percent of the average wholesale price of aviation fuel while repealing the 6 percent sales tax on the fuel. The assumption is that a similar plan may be used for gasoline and diesel fuel taxes as well.
House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair Wayne Schmidt (R-Traverse City) has pledged that the revenue sharing funds for local governments that would be lost from the sales tax on aviation fuel repeal would be replaced. No comments have been made since March about raising the sales tax to replace the lost revenue (which MRA opposes), but we will continue to follow the debate closely.
Medicaid expansion bill introduced in House
Legislation introduced yesterday broke the legislature’s silence on the question of whether or not a Medicaid expansion plan would be introduced. Rep. Matt Lori (R-Constantine) sponsored HB 4714, which seeks to expand Medicaid to 133 percent of the federal poverty level, so long as the federal government commits to picking up the whole tab.
Gov. Snyder supports expanding Medicaid to certain nondisabled adults who would meet the revised income threshold, under the belief that access to routine, preventative care would curb future medical costs. Rep. Lori’s legislation adds a 48-month cap to the expansion, which covers the period that the federal government has pledged state assistance so far. The federal guidelines allow for states to utilize federal funding until 2017 and then require states to increase funding to cover the expansion. The Senate last week opted to leave Medicaid expansion out of the budget while it continues discussing options. The House and Senate caucuses each met to discuss Medicaid expansion internally yesterday to determine the direction each caucus will take on this issue.
Legislation would eliminate landscape architect license
Legislation to repeal the licensing and fees for landscape architects was introduced last week by Reps. Hugh Crawford (R-Novi) and Ken Yonker (R-Caledonia). HBs 4685-4687 were referred to the House Regulatory Reform Committee, which Rep. Crawford chairs. MRA will be speaking with the sponsors to explain how important the landscape architect license is in protecting the industry.
Surcharge bill appears dead in House
It appears that House legislation (HB 4255) to prohibit retailers from assessing a surcharge on customers using credit cards will not be taken up again by the House Commerce Committee. With a number of concerns expressed by colleges, universities and local governments, the legislation became very complicated. Some also wanted to tie the legislation to prohibiting gas stations from offering lower gas prices for customers who pay with cash rather than credit.
Many retailers have indicated they will not be assessing a surcharge on customers, and MRA believes that the best route is to allow the market to determine whether or not surcharging is feasible for retailers. Legislation has also been introduced in the Senate (SB 240) but has not been brought up by the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee.
May is Plant Michigan Green Month
This month the Michigan Nursery and Landscape Association (MNLA) wants to encourage you to get out in your garden. To mark the festivities, Gov. Snyder has formally proclaimed May as "Plant Michigan Green Month." To learn more about events and ways to green up your yard or business, check out the Plant Michigan Green website.